NORTH CANTON  For 40 consecutive years, starting early in the morning of July 4, runners gathered together at the North Canton YMCA to participate in the annual two- or five-mile run or walk. The popular race has become a July 4 tradition to many in the area and to many outside of the area.

Runners and walkers came in all sizes and all ages to join in on the fun and the competition. Some were jogging, some were walking and some were pushing strollers. Kathy Yaros, marketing and communications director at the YMCA, said there were close to 2,000 registrants this year for both races. 

"This race has drawn participants from all over the area and some from out of the state," Yaros said. "We have also had great sponsors over the 40 years. This year Carrabba’s joined us and brought food for the runners and walkers. Pepsi has been with us for the entire 40 years. They started out by bringing a few cases of water to now bringing a full truck of bottled water."

One main theme ran through the minds of many of the racers, which was how well organized the event is every year. 

"I’m an avid runner and have been in many races and this is my first time here and the thing that stands out about this race is how organized it is," said Jan Schupp from Uhrichsville.

Some of the original organizers of the race were invited back including first time organizer Paul Beinlich and second organizer Debbie Goldthorpe. She was the race director for 28 years before retiring three years ago.

"The race was started in 1977 by a group of 30 people who wanted to run," Goldthorpe said. "I took over in 1986 and it had grown to 350 people. I think our top year was several years ago when we had 3,500 people participate. It’s a quality family oriented race and I think that’s what has drawn so many people to it over the years."

The top five placements for the two-mile race were Brady Woods, Jacob Caniford, John Laubacher, Edward Walsh and Josh Conrad, all completing in less than 11 minutes. The top five places for the five-mile included Spencer Wirick, Naimbai Njerakey, Jacob Kernell, Eric Wymer and Seth Kurzen.

The 10th annual Ron Russel Perseverance Award went to Ron’s wife, Cathy. She had a stroke in March and has worked her way back to being able to live in her home. She traveled the race route in a golf cart this year.


Photos by Patricia Faulhaber

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Second place winner Naimbai Njerakey makes his way through the last leg of the five-mile run of the North Canton YMCA July 4th Race.

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The fifth place winner of the North Canton July 4th Race Seth Kurzen was looking for the finish line.

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People along the city streets in North Canton came out to cheer on the close to 2,000 participates of the 40th annual July 4th race hosted by the YMCA.

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Many racers were dressed in red, white and blue and some carried the American flag during the annual July 4th race in North Canton. 

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One little one enjoyed the hard work of his dad who was running the five-mile race at the North Canton YMCA July 4th Race.

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The Cook family and friends enjoyed running the two-mile race together at the North Canton YMCA July 4th Race.  From left, Sarah Cook, Kerry Fitzgerald, Natalie, Diane and Freddie Cook.

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Father and son, Chris and Sam Aegerter from Massillon ran the five-mile in just over 48 minutes during the North Canton YMCA July 4th Race.

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Jan Schupp from Uhrichsville ran the North Canton YMCA July 4th Race for the first time in just over 53 minutes.

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Savannah Placie and her puppy Fierce ran the five-mile race in 53 minutes. Savannah said the mini blue heeler puppy ran the entire time.

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Cathy Russell (c) was awarded this year’s Ron Russell Perseverance Award. Cathy has come back from having a stroke last March to being able to travel the race route in a golf cart this year.